Plasma Optics (I)

When we talk about optics, we always relate it with the interaction between light and matters. The interaction will give varying result as it depends on what kind of material are being interacted with. One important properties of material is called dielectric function \epsilon(\omega,K), a function whose frequency and wavevector has impact on the physical interaction between light and matters.

We have two fascinating interaction probabilities in here: the light can be reflected or propagate from/through matter. Before we start with everything, it is better to have understanding of what plasma is. Basically, plasma, one of the fundamental state of matters (others are solid, liquid and gas), is medium with equal concentration of positive and negative charges, of which at least one charge type is mobile. Plasma takes form in gas which composed of free electrons and ions. Plasma has high energy.

Plasma has frequency, called plasma frequency \omega_{p} which becomes a guideline for deciding whether the light will be reflected or propagate. I will try to explain this later. All of us know the relation between energy E and wavelength \lambda: E=h\frac{c}{\lambda}. It is also obvious that metal, in the visible light, is reflecting incoming light. But how does it can be explained by plasma optics?

The answer lies on the value of incoming wavelength light \lambda. When \lambda>\lambda_{p}, incident light will be reflected. In the other hand, as \lambda<\lambda_{p}, incident light will propagate through matter. Illustration in figure \ref{fig:vis} will give a brief explanation of where should the light get reflected or propagate through material. The example is group of alkali metal, with wavelength ranging from 155 – 362 nm.

Visible wavelength, with group of alkali metal wavelength (155 - 362 nm
Figure 1. Visible wavelength, with group of alkali metal wavelength (155 – 362 nm)

We will come back later to this concept in the next section.


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